How to ab-stain? Dichromate stain issues in carbon printing

No, I haven’t given up on the color carbon project. Yet! But there are challenges, and they can be, well, challenging. For one, I’m running into trouble with hue and chroma of the color layers and I’ve been having a hard time figuring out what happens. One probable cause is actually dichromate staining. Let me exstain. Err, explain.

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Fade to grey – The pigment balance problem

Open any book or web page on color printing and it’ll say at some point that all pigments or dyes used in the process should mix to a neutral grey or black – at least in theory. It’s an issue I’ve been ignoring throughout my color carbon adventures so far. Well, not exactly ignoring, but I didn’t spend sufficient attention to it, certainly not in writing. Allow me to make up for this, at least in part. In this blog, I’ll explore the issue of pigment balance and try and work out a way to determine, at least with rather coarse resolution, a usable pigment balance for color carbon tissues.

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Straight ahead– the linearization game, part 2

Previously I wrote about the necessity of linearization: if you print an inkjet digital negative, what densities you can expect from the resulting carbon transfer print are a bit of a gamble. Put differently: the relationship between inkjet negative density and print density is not a linear one. To get color to work reasonably well, I’ll need to linearize my curves reasonably well, too. It’s a bit of a chore, but…well, no but, and not a ‘bit’ either. It’s just a chore. And there’s actually some preparations to be done before I can start with the…err, preparations. (I’m not sure when I’ll get to the actual printing, come to think of it!)

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Beam me down, Scotty: a new ultra-simple UV light source

It’s been a while since I wrote a somewhat acrid blog about the 300W UV floodlight unit I bought from AliExpress. The tone was acrid, because 300W in reality turns out to be about 75W. The conclusion was somewhat counter-intuitive, as I also mentioned that I found the unit so abysmal, I planned to buy some more of them. The reason is simple: while the unit doesn’t live up to its specifications, it still gives a lot of bang for your buck, and most importantly, it’s super easy to implement. Well, you be the judge of that!

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More woes and some silver linings – digital negatives revisited

I complained earlier about digital negatives. They’re my least favorite part of the color carbon process so far, and I have a feeling it’s going to stay that way. Truth be told – I still think digital inkjet negatives suck a$&. Seriously. They’re work of the devil. Not that I haven’t made any progress on this front. To the contrary, apart from being away from home for a few days, I actually did a truckload of work involving digital negatives and they have improved. Read on for more info on the crucial improvement(s) that I made.

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Couleur locale – the search for color in carbon

Technically, carbon transfer printing isn’t ‘carbon’ anymore once it becomes color. Yes, for the black/key layer (if used), a carbon pigment is generally used. But for the other colors, evidently carbon falls short. So something like ‘pigmented gelatin printing’ is more accurate. In any case, as color enters, it brings many questions, issues and concerns. Lots of fun stuff, as well. How about this one: which colors should we go for in the first place? Let’s have a look and see if we can make at least a first step.

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First light – at the end of a particularly long tunnel

Progress! But remember: baby steps. Still, today’s baby step is a bit of a symbolic one, because it’s the first actual carbon transfer color image. With some caveats. Well, not some. Many. But still. Colors!

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Baby steps – enter the torture test

No, I have not yet given up! In fact, I’ve been making some progress on the color carbon transfer front. Last time, I made some cyan, magenta and yellow tissue with my newly acquired paints. Only five 4×5″ sheets per color, which is ample for some initial testing. This testing is underway, results so far are promising, and there’s even some progress on the digital negatives front!

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All ye who enter here, abandon all hope

I mean, really, that title feels appropriate because I’ve started work on something that’s just extremely unlikely to work out well. Let’s face it – carbon transfer is challenging enough to begin with. Even I know that. Let alone doing it in color. Yes, you read that right: I must’ve gone mad. Carbon transfer, and not just black, but also C…M…and Y. It’s going to be either a long journey, or a frustrating one, or both. Let’s see.

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A litany of woes – digital inkjet negatives and a note on dot gain mottling

I’ve sworn many times to myself that I’d steer clear of digital negatives if at all possible. Really. It’s not out of a lack of familiarity with them. Quite the opposite. I must have printed hundreds upon hundreds of them. They gave me maybe a handful decent prints, virtually all of them cyanotypes. But sometimes, there is virtually no choice but to go there…

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